GENRE: SHORT STORY
Literature is difficult to define universally; it is not definite or specific. It is an artistic work that is produced in written form within a cultural setting. The content is engaging, the language elegant and the technique appealing. More importantly, it has aesthetic values.
There are five genres in modern Malay literature, namely short story, drama, essay/critique, novel and poetry. A popular genre is the short story, which is a disproportionate mixture of the writer’s experience (fact) and imagination. Of 5000 to 20,000 words, the short story makes a fleeting and compelling read.
What must a short story consist of?
A high level of intellect, that is to say, the work must contain a message that the author wishes to impart to the reader to reflect on and ponder over as guidance, knowledge and experience.
Emotions, whether happiness, sadness or cynicism. That is to say, the short story contains issues and a language style that can be appreciated by the readers and is able to elicit a particular disposition as well as impart lessons and provide entertainment.
The events/issues in the short story spring forth from the heart and mind, that is, with imagination based on reasoning and not mere fantasy. There are usually aims to writing a short story and they are generally positive.
A short story has a presentation technique, that is, the method of narration, the order of events and diction.
Forms of short story
Mimetic/imitation, that is, imitating or recording events in the life of the author mixed with imagination.
Short story providing a basis or reason to alter the normal form, such as creating the character of an alien.
Fantasy with bizarre elements and symbolism which at times can be irrational.
Techniques of short storytelling
Special characteristics of a short story (conventional short story)
1. Short, concise, intensive (some matters are accentuated)
2. Contains scenes, characters, movements
3. Succinct and captivating language
4. Author’s interpretation of life
6. Stirs the reader’s feelings
7. Clear description of certain events
8. Contains a story/main issue, main character, setting and mood
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AUTHOR
Writing a creative work
Creative writing, such as writing short stories, cannot be taught. A mentor is not able to instruct someone how to write; he can only explain how the writing can be improved.
... dialogue stimulates thought. Action moves the story forward against the chosen backdrop and the exposure will provide an overview or a particular theme of the short story.
The writer must:
1. Be sensitive to the human condition and strive to portray his/her feelings.
2. Love words so that the phrases used will move the reader.
3. Be interested in the world of writing and be able to distance himself/herself from the work in order to be objective about its strengths and weaknesses.
4. Be meticulous.
5. Write daily, not occasionally.
6. Write because of the desire to write and not for any other reason, such as financial.
7. Be brave in facing challenges. Rejection should be an inducement to keep writing rather than viewed upon as a failure.
How does one become a writer?
Talent is inherent. There is a disagreement among authors regarding this point. For example: Keris Mas described talent as crucial, whereas A. Samad Said considered it as less important than effort and interest.
Possessing the desire to write.
This is recognised by many writers such as Anwar Ridhwan and Khadijah Hashim. Reading helps to generate ideas on matters to write about. It will contribute to writing the ending and prompt the first idea.